Two years ago, I pondered if robots were coming for our jobs. My musing concluded that human writers are irreplaceable. Well, here we are, quickly learning how wrong I was.
In this weekend’s issue of Garbage Day, Ryan Broderick painted a very grim picture:
CNET appointed a “senior vice president of AI content strategy”. And Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer, is mulling over a one-two punch of layoffs and AI replacements for writers. Look, this is happening. It won’t happen to every sector of journalism (right away), but it’s happening. Breaking news, consumer journalism, celebrity news, aggregation, there’s a lot of roles that are going to be augmented or outright replaced with AI. Get yourself in a union and start figuring out how to protect your jobs. The bright side, or at least, the not super depressing side, about this is I think AI writing will probably create a bigger demand for voicier, opinionated, human writing. Maybe? But we’re about to lose A LOT of roles for professional writers.
I’m not sure the future is as bleak as Ryan thinks, but I’ve also been wrong before. The writing world is experiencing significant AIification, and corporations will always look for ways to cut expenses. Why pay a writer $0.01/word (an awful rate in and of itself, but that’s not our topic today) when an AI can churn out SEO clickbait for free and at 100x the speed?
Look, like it or not, this will affect paid writers in many industries. Ryan’s right; breaking news, consumer journalism, celebrity news, and other types of contentcreators are likely in for a rude awakening. I understand that is likely many of the people reading this newsletter, and I’m sorry. But let’s look at the good this AI revolution can potentially bring.
All writers are worth way more than $0.01/word. Hell, even beginning writers are likely worth more than $1.00/word. Though, most content farms don’t care. They don’t typically even care about quality. They only care about SEO-driven ad traffic.
Look, I don’t disparage you if that’s your route. There was a time when I would have killed to have my name on some of these content sites, regardless of how insulting the pay was. But, I think we’re all going to very quickly see that the whole industry is in for a crash.
As search engines become glorified chatbots that only cite sources, there will be zero need for anyone to click on these content blogs. Why click through the link when the information you seek is right there in the result?
Instead of feeding that empire for someone else’s paycheck, I encourage writers to find their own voice. Stop creating content and start writing. Tell your stories. Lean into your experience.
As Ryan pointed out in the Garbage Day piece, there is likely a wave of demand for authentic, original voices. No matter how good an AI writer is, it can’t replace you. Your experience, your opinions, and your voice is unique.
Look, if you like reporting on celebrities or entertainment, go for it! This isn’t about one type of writing vs. another. Instead, it’s about finding ways to inject yourself into the piece. Create your own voice that differentiates itself from what an AI can generate.
As we’re very quickly learning, companies will figure out how to replace humans with automation. So, make yourself irreplaceable. There will always be a market for unique, well-constructed human writing. It’s time we all put the content days behind us.